Blue Bottle, Grey Ink

January 18, 2020

In a recent trip to one of the quieter and more hidden Blue Bottle Coffee shops in Tokyo, we were delighted to find they had released a special “Blue Bottle” series of inks, one in blue and one in grey. Being partial to “All Grey Everything” as well as having a penchant for fountain pens, we just had to pick up the grey version.

iPhone 11 Pro + 14mm Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 14mm Wide Angle Back Camera

The inks themselves are a special collaboration with Kakimori, a custom ink retailer in Tokyo1 and to be honest, don’t have much to do with Blue Bottle other than the sticker on the bottle. Sadly, it also turns out to be a pigment based ink (we should have read more carefully before purchasing it), which means we’ll never risk using it with our more expensive pens.

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2

Nonetheless, it makes a nice small addition to our grey family2

  1. They also did a custom collaboration with the Starbucks Roastery that opened in Nakameguro last year. 

  2. A small part of which is pictured above. From left to right: Lamy Crystal Ink - Agate, Blue Bottle + Kakimori - Grey, Lamy Dialogue 3 EF - Palladium, Pilot Iroshizuku - Fuyu Shogun, Pilot Iroshizuku - Kirisame 

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And We Will Find A Way Somehow

December 31, 2019

One last drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from Big Sur up to Mount Tamalpais to watch the final sunset of 2019…

Sony a6600 + E 16-55mm f/2.8 G

Sony a6600 + E 16-55mm f/2.8 G

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

Sony RX100M7 + 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5

It’s somewhat fitting that we finished out the year from the place where this whole endeavour started a mere 10 months ago, born from a desire to simplify and reduce our lives to align with a uncomplicated idea that often times “good enough is good enough…”

We’re not sure how much progress we’ve actually made towards that goal, but regardless, it has been a challenging, wonderful and amazing year - and decade - in so many different ways and we wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

And as we watch the sun set on 2019 for the final time from the top of Mount Tamalpais, we are filled with a complex mix of optimism, hesitation and anticipation for the new decade to come.

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Stay A Little Longer Now

December 10, 2019

Flying over the Mitsuishi Rocks along the Manazuru Coast in Kanagawa with the DJI Mavic Mini.

DJI Mavic Mini + 24mm f/2.8

DJI Mavic Mini + 24mm f/2.8

DJI Mavic Mini + 24mm f/2.8

The first time one picks up the DJI Mavic Mini they’re likely to do a double take - it’s crazy how light and insubstantial it feels in hand.

We also own a full sized Mavic Pro and have often thought about selling it due to how unwieldy it is to carry anywhere. Not only is the drone itself large and heavy at nearly a kilogram, but it also requires the (heavy) remote, extra (heavy and large) Mavic Pro Batteries and most annoyingly - the gigantic and heavy proprietary charging cable. Such a profilgate waste of space and weight for an ultra-specialised tool liable to be used only once per trip at most is anathema to carry-on-only/one-bag travelers such as ourselves, and so more often than not the Mavic Pro stays collecting dust on our shelves.

The Mavic Mini though - that’s another story. The best part beyond the incredibly tiny size and weight is that the accessories (remotes, batteries) are also small, and that it supports in body charging with a standard micro-USB cable - meaning no heavy proprietary charger required. It’s truly the first drone lightweight travelers or photographers can throw in their bag without regret, and take with them on almost any trip - as they say, the best camera (or drone) is the one you have on you.1

There’s some downsides to such a tiny drone however - besides the fragility, it shoots only in JPG2, has an argubly inferior transmission system3 and can struggle in high winds. The latter in particular is what we were concerned about - would it be unable to return home in face of strong prevailing winds?

The Manazuru coast in winter is strongly buffeted by freezing cold winds and the “high wind” warning came on almost immediately as we flew out over the ocean. Despite this, and the drone rocking back and forth at times, it still managed to redeem itself admirably although the battery life was shortened even more than expected - just under 15 minutes of flight time before it was time to head back with 20% emergency reserve left on the battery as it struggled to fight the headwinds and stay on course. However, dropping to a lower altitude helped lessen the burden and everything worked out fine in the end.

So, definitely a sound purchase and probably means it’s time to finally sell our Mavic Pro.

  1. One final interesting twist is that our version - purchased in Japan - weighs only 199 grams, a full 50 grams lighter than the rest of the world due to a special Japan-only ultra light weight model. There’s some downsides - the drone feels even lighter and more delicate in hand than the Rest Of World (ROW) model, and the batteries get only around 20 minutes of battery life versus the 30 for ROW models. (ROW models are apparently cross-compatible with the Japan Mavic Mini but the weight would technically push it over the 199g written on the body) 

  2. Of course RAW is preferred but as the theme of this site goes, “good enough is good enough” and looking at the photos we got, we’re happy enough for now. Also, the RAW files of the Mavic Pro (first generation) don’t have that much latitude to begin with so it’s not like we’re losing much… 

  3. General consensus is that it should pose no problems in the wilderness, but will struggle in densely populated urban areas. One shouldn’t be flying a drone in densely-crowded urban areas so that is no problem from our perspective and in our (limited) testing to date out in unpopulated areas we didn’t experience any issues. 

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The Northern Sun

December 01, 2019

The frozen view from near the peak of Jungfrau, at the top of Europe.

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0

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The Space In Between Us Is Gone

November 24, 2019

Gazing upon the north face of Mount Eiger soaring over Grindelwald, Switzerland.

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

Panasonic DC-GX7MK3 + Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 14mm Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 26mm Standard Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 52mm Telephoto Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + 26mm Standard Back Camera

Shot with and edited entirely on the iPhone 11 Pro save the single exception indicated above.

Good Enough is Good Enough…

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We Were Trying To Find The Answers

November 12, 2019

Watching the sun set over Zürich Old Town….

iPhone 11 Pro + 14mm Wide Angle Back Camera

We didn’t bring much camera equipment1 with us for this trip so we’ve been shooting with our phone a lot. Editing on the phone is enjoyable in its immediacy as well as embrace of “good enough is good enough” ethos, but remains unavoidably unrefined in many others - the need for multiple copies of lossy, camera-roll-polluting jpeg intermediaries as one round trips through various apps is one primary annoyance.

iPhone editing process

From left-to-right, top-to-bottom:

  1. Original shot from iPhone 14mm ultra-wide back camera
  2. Original base edits + colouration via Priime
  3. Correcting perspective skew + distortion via Skrwt
  4. Split toning, local adjustments + grain via LR Mobile
  5. (Not pictured) Crop to 1:1 aspect ratio via built in iOS editing tool

The final (uncropped) result:

iPhone 11 Pro + 14mm Wide Angle Back Camera

  1. Our routing from Tokyo took us through Vienna, which meant a short but unavoidable intra-european segment on Austrian Airlines which has a fearsome reputation for strictly keeping to an 8kg weight limit for the single carry on. We’re quite experienced “one bag travelers” so the single carry-on wasn’t a challenge, but the weight limit was - a Sony A7rIV + 12-105 f/4 G weighs 1.3 kgs alone, which when you add in the weight of the bag (Belroy Transit Pack (1.1kg) and computer (12” Macbook 920 grams)2 doesn’t leave much extra room, especially if one wants to nip up to the mountains in the winter and needs some warmer clothes. Something had to give, hence the smaller camera. 

  2. Camera + Pack + Computer3: the urban equivalent of hiking’s “Big Three” (sleeping bag, tent, backpack) 

  3. We’re sad the 12” Macbook is no longer manufactured - it still has a place for ultra-light 1-bag travel where the (admittedly awesome) iPad Pro (even with iPad OS) still can’t quite cut it, but the full power of a larger macbook is not warranted. We’re going to hold on to ours until the day it dies. 

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For All Of Those Azure Days

October 31, 2019

Brilliant blue skies and dramatic clouds over the Tokyo Tocho Towers in downtown Shinjuku…

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

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The Ocean Couldn't Take Us Away

October 29, 2019

Kamakura mornings…

iPhone 11 Pro + Wide Angle Back Camera

Sony DSC-RX100M6 + 24-200mm F2.8-4.5

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